Summer running: hanging ten

A few months ago I broke through the mental and physical barrier to running 10 miles. It had been a long time coming. My runs hovered in the 5-7 mile range for a long time and I had a hard time finding a route I liked that would expand my mileage. Runners can be quirky, so I don’t think it’s that unusual that I don’t like doing laps of my 5-mile route, that there are certain times of day when I’ll avoid running in particular neighborhoods and doing any out-and-back runs is completely out of the question. That limits where, when and how I’ll run, but it’s a little game I play – an internal struggle between the part of me that wants to perform well and the part of me that wants to sit in front of the t.v. and eat ice cream.

the subconscious wants..

the subconscious wants..

versus what I really should be doing

versus what I really should be doing

According to this article from the Atlantic, runners are weird: we spend much of our training time grousing about one thing or another.. Non-runners think that means we hate to run. That can’t be right. I tend to think it makes us happier people overall, because we get it out of our systems and are pleasant and joyful the rest of the day. Right?

In the end of April and through early May I enjoyed checking my Endomondo at the end of a long slog and finding I’d done 9.5 or 10.2 miles. I’d do that twice a week and a shorter, faster run another day – this was playing catch-up for the winter days when I should have run (in Florida) or couldn’t run (snow was still too deep in March!). The half-marathon I signed up for was coming quickly in June… so of course I promptly took a trip and blew any training schedule out of the water.

Going to Brazil was great in many ways, but not so much for my training. The race was just 3 days after my return and I’d gotten an infected blister just as I arrived, so there was no running until the antibiotics took effect (half of my foot was red and swollen, and the blister … let’s just say “can’t-look-at-it-gross” and leave it at that). But while I was in Rio I witnessed a pretty cool fitness culture that I haven’t really seen in the U.S. People run the beach road every morning – I mean HORDES of people, from the very fit to the chubby guy wearing nothing but his speedo – and many meet with trainers there for various calisthenics. It was very motivating to see. So when the blister subsided I actually ran – one day – in Rio, for a total of about 5 miles along the beach in 90 degree heat.

runners and bikers using the designated lane along Ipanema beach in Rio

runners and bikers using the designated lane along Ipanema beach in Rio

people working out with trainers at Ipanema beach in Rio

people working out with trainers at Ipanema beach in Rio

My hosts in Rio were runners too, which was interesting. Both were about a decade older than me but had been serious marathoners. I’ve done one and it was more than 10 years ago now. My takeaway was when the woman said she was losing interest in all of the training involved. She wanted a compromise. “I want to be able to run 10 miles, it seems like a good distance for fitness,” she said. For some reason this sounded so reasonable and doable at the time (blame the caipirinhas?), that I immediately adopted that as my strategy going forward. I may not run 10 miles several times a week but as long as I’m capable of running 10 I’ll be happy. Plus, it took me so long and so much effort to build up to running 10 that I’m frankly petrified to let go of it and have to start over again.

When I got home the half-marathon went better than expected, which boosted my resolve to hang onto the 10 mile standard. It had been 4 years since my last half marathon and that one was a bust, so trimming about 10 minutes off my best time (and not dying) solidified my resolve to hang onto the minimum necessary to do another — someday.

I would have been happy to finish but I surprised myself and trimmed a few minutes from my half marathon time

I would have been happy to finish but I surprised myself and trimmed a few minutes from my half marathon time

Maintaining that standard has already been challenging, with summer travel and hot weather throwing me off a bit. I’ve had good days and bad days, wicked hot days and too-many-horseflies days, but I’m trying to stay focused on the long term. Ten could be a great number for me.

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